A Week in Phuket
|Surin Beach, Phuket, Thailand|
I have so much to tell you, and where to start? I guess I'll begin where we did, on the west side of the island of Phuket, itself off the west side of Thailand. We'd never intended to come to Phuket - it's one of the most popular tourist destinations for Australians, and we were looking for adventure, not a Coffee Club (or Starbucks, for that matter) in another country.
But when we got married last year, our friend Rose (thank you!) gave us a week's accommodation at Surin Beach, on Phuket, and how can you say no to that?
In short, you can't. You book your tickets, piggy-backing a trip to Sri Lanka on the end, pack your sunscreen, and off you go. This is a honeymoon, after all.
|1. Phuket Town, Phuket :: 2. Fishing boats in the Andaman Sea :: 3. Macaque monkeys at Toe Sae Hill, Phuket Town|
The thing is, I think it's possible to create adventure anywhere - even in Phuket. I mean, it's still Thailand. It has monkeys and the Andaman Sea and fresh coconuts and great, cheap massages, and you can't find those things in Brisbane, can you?
With this in mind, we spent our week exploring our hotel's swimming pool and breakfast buffet, the cocktail list at a local beach-side bar, and every evening we walked up the road and selected a different outdoor cafe where a lot of locals seemed to be eating.
|1. Lanterns in the trees, Phuket :: 2. Freshwater crabs on a forest walk :: 3. Sunset at Surin Beach|
Just kidding. We happily did those things, of course, but we also got out of Surin Beach where we were staying. We took tuk-tuk rides to Phuket Old Town, and walked through narrow streets lined with historic Sino-Portuguese shop/houses. When we got too hot, we wandered into otherworldly, hyper cooled shopping centres and browsed, not really caring what we were looking at. We had at least one coconut a day, drinking the cool water with a straw and then scraping out the creamy flesh with spoons. (Australia needs more coconuts. I am utterly convinced they are magic.) We seared our mouths on papaya salads and green curries. We discovered tiny red crabs in the forest and upside-down catfish at the aquarium.
|1. Our view from the back of a tuk-tuk (taxi/truck) :: 2. Sino-Portuguese architecture, Phuket Town :: 3. Spicy papaya or mango salads with rice :: 4. Street art + mannequins :: 5. Street scene, Patong|
We had our adventures, but Phuket for us was mostly about down-time. We stayed in one hotel for the entire 6 nights, got to know our local beach and bars and restaurants, and tried to progressively reduce our reliance on electronic devices. Robbie and I decided not to take our laptops on this trip - just iPads and iPhones (and he turned his phone and email off the whole trip). I used my phone to take photos and post to Instagram, but didn't spend much time online at all. That was good - for Robbie especially. Me, I made notes about things to write about later, and took (no kidding) 1700+ photos on my iPhone and Nikon, and wrote a short story longhand when I was inspired.
Of course, now that I'm home, my brain is bursting with things I want to write and create, but really while we traveled it was all about settling into the moments as they happened. And because I wasn't thinking about work - because it really wasn't even that accessible to me, on my iPad mini and a hotel internet connection that didn't always stretch to our room - I relaxed.
So good, to recharge. Focus on the here and the now and my family and what will I have for dinner and will I maybe win this game of Yahtzee?
You know, the important things.
|1. Phuket markets :: 2. Buddhist temple with Buddha images :: 3. Ducks at Natural Restaurant :: 4. Relaxing at Surin Beach|
Places and things I really, really liked in Phuket
- We stayed at the ManaThai Resort in Surin Beach. It was a lovely hotel with excellent staff and food, a great pool, and super-comfortable rooms. Quiet Surin Beach was only a 2 minute walk away, on a footpath through a paddock - and if you're traveling with kids to Phuket I recommend avoiding the craziness of Patong and hanging out at a beach like Surin.
- The Diamond Beach Club was where we had our happy hour cocktails every night. Tucked up on a couch along the waterfront in Surin Beach, it doesn't get better for sunsets. Try the strawberry mojito (for the grownups) and a fresh carrot juice (for the kids). The staff bring you peanuts for munching and have heaps of games/colouring books/blocks for the kids to play with. NOTE: on the website it looks like party central, but in the pre-dinner period during the low-season I can assure you it is not.
- Beachfront massage. If you're nervous you might accidentally get that kind of massage - you can relax because Surin Beach has heaps of open air massage places where an hours' fully-clothed massage is amazing and costs less than $20. Nelle even had one! Till she got bored and ended up getting her nails painted instead. (What can you do?)
- A Meet the Locals Tour with Phuket Heritage Trails. This was a highlight for our trip, an afternoon/evening exploring Phuket with a Phuket native (and excellent English-speaker) Chaya. If you're interested in learning more about Thai food and culture, Buddhism, and history, you should definitely hook up with one of Chaya's tours. The knowledge we gained that day added depth to our whole time in Thailand.
- Natural Restaurant, Phuket Town. This place was GORGEOUS. A restaurant built up and up and up into the trees, making it widely known as the 'Tree House'. It's decorated in wood and flora and the food is amazing. I could've moved in.
- Riding around in tuk-tuks. The wind through my hair (and earrings)! The smells and sounds of the world around! I don't know if - after Thailand and Sri Lanka - I'll adapt to the closed-in cars we drive around in here in Australia.
- Thai food. Need I say more? Curries and salads and Chang beers and fresh fruit everything. Plus, the Thai seem to make magically fluffy omelets. Delish.
- The Andaman Sea. This water is stunning in colour, and even though it was a little rough for Nelle (who fears being swept away after her Stradbroke Island incident), I loved looking out on it. Imagining I don't get seasick. Or that I have a private island.
Or just imagining.